This is “Personal Decision Criteria When Considering Possible Job Targets”, section 3.3 from the book Job Searching in Six Steps (v. 1.0).
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Industry, function, and geography are helpful external criteria. When you look out into the market at the broad spectrum of jobs, having three elements to filter and narrow this down is critical. But you have other criteria important to you internally that are unrelated to a specific industry, function, or geography:
Being clear about the three elements will help you research, but understanding your internal criteria will help you select your next job. From the preceding, you can see three broad categories to consider:
An employer might be big or small, new or established, well branded, or unknown. These are all considerations that may or may not matter to you. Each has its pros and cons:
Table 3.2 Advantages and Disadvantages for a Sampling of Employer Characteristics
|Type of Employer||Advantages||Disadvantages|
Of course, there are gradations between each of the preceding extremes. You need to decide which, if any, criteria matter to you and your priorities. For example, is a brand-name company more important to you than whether it’s big or small?
Compensation has many elements. Opportunity for advancement can be categorized with compensation because it is directly tied to compensation elements:
Some elements are more standard for certain jobs than others. Nonprofit and government jobs typically do not have any bonus components. You will want to find out what is customary in the sector, industry, and function you are considering, if a specific element of compensation is high on your list of priorities.
The range of offerings varies greatly from company to company and even within companies. One company in the same industry and for the same functional role may pay more or less and have a different compensation structure than another company in the same industry and function. Even within companies, there is variation because your compensation depends on the level of the job you are filling, as well as the skills and experience you are bringing to the job. Some roles have a lot of built-in variability. For example, sales roles may have a small defined portion (base salary or draw) and then have bonuses or commissions based on achieving certain goals (e.g., selling $x amount).
Look at your needs and priorities. What are your financial obligations? If you have a lot of student loan or credit card debt, then lower-paying jobs may just be out of the question. If you have a spouse with health benefits that you can use, then maybe that part of the package doesn’t matter to you. If you are considering graduate school, then tuition reimbursement may be more attractive. Rank the compensation elements in the previous list, and know which are necessary versus nice to have versus of no interest. Compare your list with what is customary to your job targets to ensure that you are realistic in your job search.
While compensation items can be quantified, the lifestyle and environment category includes the qualitative benefits of your job:
Table 3.3 Areas to Explore When Considering Lifestyle and Environment Issues of Job Choices
|Culture and colleagues||
As with employer characteristics and compensation, itemize and prioritize what’s important to you. This way, you can look for jobs with these criteria, and you can assess job opportunities that come your way against the things that matter to you.
Take all of these criteria, including industry, function, geography, employer characteristics, compensation, and lifestyle and environment, and create a master list of the things that matter to you. Rank that list, and note any criteria that you absolutely must have in a job. You should have some, but not many, must-have criteria. You want some must-have criteria because these will anchor your job search and keep you from chasing opportunities that will not make sense in the long run. At the same time, no job will meet all of your desired criteria, so you want to remain flexible and open to trading off some criteria for others.
One possible exercise to work through is to force rank your criteria. Make a master list of the criteria, including the preceding suggestions as well as any other criteria you wish to add. Eliminate from the list criteria you don’t care about—for example, “Sure, a bonus would be nice to have, but I would still take a job that doesn’t provide one.” For the remaining criteria, select your top half and then select the top half from there. Keep reducing until you get to the criteria you absolutely must have in your next job and can delete no further.
A good example of using both external market criteria and internal personal criteria to make choices is Emily G., a recent undergraduate looking for her first full-time permanent position. She had interest in financial services and media, HR or office administration, and New York City. Her wish list still included a lot of job possibilities, and therefore the risk of a haphazard, diluted search. But Emily also highly prioritized a brand name company, which narrowed the field considerably. She also knew she did well in a more structured environment, so she looked for either established roles or at least a boss and colleagues with tendencies to coach and support. Otherwise, she was flexible, looking at new roles and old roles, staying open about all aspects of compensation, and otherwise not restricting herself except for brand name and structure.
|Emily wants||Hired for|
|New York City||New York City|
|Media or financial services||Media|
|HR or office administration||HR|
|Brand name||New division, but of a household name|
|Structure||Start-up environment, but very strong and supportive manager|
Emily met her personal criteria because she knew to look for them. The job she accepted was not initially an obvious match because the company itself is very new, but it is a subsidiary of a brand name. The role also has the potential of being unstructured because of the start-up nature of the subsidiary, but Emily ensured she had supportive structures in place (an experienced boss with a supportive coaching style) before accepting. Similarly, you need to know your personal criteria, and find or negotiate your next job to meet them.